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Equal Power For Women In The Grapes Of Wrath

1218 words - 5 pages

John Steinbeck wrote a book, The Grapes of Wrath, which would change forever the way Americans, thought about their social classes and even their own families. The novel was completed in 1938 and then published in 1939. When this novel was released the critics saw it as being very controversial. Some critics called it a master piece, while others called it pornography. Steinbeck's attack of the upper-class and the readers' inability to distinguish the fictitiousness of the book often left his readers disgruntled. The time period in which this book was written was the 1930's while there was a horrible drought going on in the Oklahoma pan handle and during the Great Depression. Thousands of ...view middle of the document...

Ma foresees the way the family will deteriorate without proper leadership and thus she takes what little strength they all have left and pushes the family west together. This shift in power is obvious from the beginning; when the family is leaving Tom asks if Casey could come along with them and is it Ma who steps in to respond, "It aint kin we? It's will we? ... As far as ‘kin,' we can't do nothin', not go to California or nothing; but as far as will, (…) an' I never heard tell no Joads or no Hazletts, neither, ever refusin' food an' shelter or a lift on the road to anybody that asked"(139). Ma realizes that from this point that they all need to learn to give and share because at some time they are going to need some help themselves. The Joad family is not delineated by blood, but it is their devotion and commitment that shows their true "family". From the time Casey is given a ride by the Joads he is treated as part of the family, everything the family gets Casey will get, this illustrates that their "family" extends beyond the limits of blood relation.
The Joad family's willingness to take on Casey as another member in their group is due in part to the tough times they are in and also to who is leading the family. Ma Joad's decisions through out the book are different from that of the males in other families who are going through the same situations. The Joads run into other migrant families on the road that cannot believe how and why the Joads are so generous. When the Joads are down to their last bit of money and the end of their food supply they make one last stew. All the kids who live in the camps around them smell the stew and come over to see if they can get some off of Ma. Ma cannot stand to see those kids' faces so she says if they go grab some sticks they can scoop the pot clean. But when one of those boys came back to his tent smelling of stew the boy's mom was mad at Ma and came to talk to her. The woman was very angry saying to Ma "you kin he'p me by mindin' your own children an' lettin' mine alone" (353). Through Ma's generous gesture to the camp children, her separation from the rest of the migrants is once again demonstrated; the other mother cannot even seem to fathom why she would give anyone else besides her own family a drop of food.
Although Ma's family is the most important thing to her she does not lose sight...

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